A Catholic organization recently called for vandalism of church property in Massachusetts to be investigated as a hate crime. The statement came after a Virgin Mary statue outside of Saint Catherine’s Catholic Church in Norwood, MA was spray painted before Easter Sunday.
The church’s members said they were surprised and dismayed at the vandalism, reports NECN.
"I certainly think that, especially with the sacred holiday, that it’s very sad that these kind of things happen," said Jeane Doyle, a church member.
Parishioners reportedly laid flowers around the statue after seeing the vandalism.
"It’s funny, I brought my mom a bouquet of flowers, and so it’s going to be a bit smaller now because I took some flowers out just to put with her," said church member Charlotte Cahoon.
St. Catherine’s parishioners expressed emotional distress upon seeing the vandalized Virgin Mary, reports WCVB.
"They walked by and all broke down in tears," said parishioner Kaitlyn Savage. "It was the saddest thing ever. I had seen them in the church before and it broke my heart that all those little old ladies were crying."
Local pastor Father Donohoe said that the church is already working to resolve the situation.
“We are aware of this sad act of vandalism and will be working with a specialist to have the statue repaired and restored. Please pray for the person or persons who did this,” said Donohoe in a statement.
The Catholic Action League (CAL) called for the vandalism to be considered a hate crime, holding that it should be taken seriously be police, according to NECN.
“It’s a very, very sad thing. It’s a very malicious thing. It’s a very malevolent thing,” said CAL executive director C.J. Doyle. “Obviously, somebody was extremely mean-spirited and extremely calculating to do this on the evening of Good Friday.”
CAL previously called for a vandalism incident to be investigated as a hate crime following a similar incident at a Dorchester, Mass. church in 2012, reports Catholicism.org.